Commander Corner: Zurgo Bellstriker

Welcome back,

For this week, I decided to get away from the slow ramp decks and control decks for something lean and mean. [c]Zurgo Bellstriker[/c] is about as lean as it gets. A 2/2 for one is pretty solid in other constructed formats, so why not in this one? We can definitely make this work in this wonderful format we call Commander.

Last time we saw Zurgo, he was the man in charge. He was the leader of the Mardu, charging them into battle. He was a master of war, dominating his foes on the battlefield. Things have changed since Sarkhan went back in time. Now, he rings bells and serves Kolaghan. He is Kolaghan’s personal attendant, and essentially a punching bag. When Kolaghan wishes to go to war, its Zurgo’s job to ring the bell and rally the troops together. Before this time shift, Sarkhan and Zurgo were enemies. Sarkhan wanted nothing more than to take vengeance on him, but now that he has saw how low his enemy has fallen, he decided against it. It seems that Zurgo’s fate was worse than what Sarkhan had planned for him.

[c]Zurgo Bellstriker[/c] lends himself to a super lean aggressive deck. In terms of constructed formats like Standard, he fits square into these hyper aggressive red decks that focus so much on curving out perfectly. This format is no different. The deck’s focus is about curving out and utilizing your mana effectively, while squeezing out every last point of damage you can from each spell you cast. Lets take a look at what troops [c]Zurgo Bellstriker[/c] can rally up for us.

cardart_qtcpFTe09Z

He may have lost his power, but he sure makes up for it in speed and efficiency

[d title= “Zurgo Bellstriker (EDH)”]

Commander

1 Zurgo Bellstriker

Lands

1 Bloodstained Mire

1 Mutavault

1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

1 Scrying Sheets

1 Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep

28 Snow-Covered Mountain

1 Strip Mine

1 Tectonic Edge

1 Wooded Foothills

[/d]

[d]

Creatures

1 Anger

1 Ash Zealot

1 Avalanche Riders

1 Chandra’s Phoenix

1 Diaochan, Artful Beauty

1 Dragon Whisperer

1 Eidolon of the Great Revel

1 Fanatic of Mogis

1 Firedrinker Satyr

1 Firefist Striker

1 Flametongue Kavu

1 Foundry Street Denizen

1 Frenzied Goblin

1 Goblin Guide

1 Goblin Heelcutter

1 Goblin Rabblemaster

1 Goblin Wardriver

1 Grim Lavamancer

1 Hellrider

[/d]

[d]

Creatures Cont.

1 Hero of Oxid Ridge

1 Ire Shaman

1 Kargan Dragonlord

1 Legion Loyalist

1 Lightning Berserker

1 Lightning Mauler

1 Magus of the Moon

1 Manic Vandal

1 Mardu Scout

1 Monastery Swiftspear

1 Ogre Battledriver

1 Purphoros, God of the Forge

1 Satyr Firedancer

1 Stormbreath Dragon

1 Thundermaw Hellkite

1 Urabrask the Hidden

1 Vexing Devil

1 War-Name Aspirant

1 Zealous Conscripts

[/d]

[d]

Instants

1 Chain of Plasma

1 Falter

1 Fireblast

1 Lightning Bolt

1 Magma Jet

1 Price of Progress

1 Pyrokinesis

1 Searing Blaze

1 Searing Blood

1 Stoke the Flames

Sorceries

1 Arc Lightning

1 Blinding Flare

1 Chain Lightning

1 Goblin War Cry

1 Harness by Force

1 Hordeling Outburst

1 Magmatic Chasm

1 Mizzium Mortars

1 Wheel of Fate

1 Wheel of Fortune

[/d]

[d]

Enchantments

1 Aggravated Assault

1 Goblin War Drums

1 Heat Stroke

1 Sulfuric Vortex

Artifacts

1 Hall of Triumph

[/d]

Price: Paper = $201.42 | MTGO = 154.9 TIX

The MTGO price does not include [c]Goblin War Cry[/c]. I would recommend replacing it with another [c]Falter[/c] effect like [c]Ruthless Invasion[/c], but this slot is up to you.

This deck is pretty much hellbent on beating your opponent’s face into the pavement. This is the most aggressive deck I think I’ve ever seen or built. It’s creature dense, packed with burn and [c]Falter[/c] effects, and some card draw to keep the pain train coming. It does one thing, but it does that one thing extremely well.

The biggest draw to this deck is its curve. I’ve done the best I can to make the curve as good as possible. This deck has been in the works for at least a month now, so I’ve had a lot of time with it. The deck tends to curve out supremely, and usually has some way to use all of its mana in the turn cycle. I skimped a little on the one drops, because our turn one play is usually just [c]Zurgo Bellstriker[/c]. We do curve up to five drops, or six drops if you include [c]Pyrokinesis[/c] and [c]Fireblast[/c] though you usually won’t be casting it for its mana cost, so that we can maximize the pressure on our opponent during the early game.

Most decks in the format take some time to set up, which is where we do the most of our damage. We curve out to some of the best aggressive five drops printed in recent memory with [c]Stormbreath Dragon[/c], [c]Thundermaw Hellkite[/c], and [c]Urabrask the Hidden[/c]. These hasty threats will be able to close out the game in short order.

If we do end up going into the long game, our smaller creatures will probably get outclassed. So to mitigate this, we have a handfull of [c]Falter[/c] effects. They will allow us to blow out our opponent and shove tons of damage through. I hope your opponent doesn’t plan on blocking often, because that’s not going to happen.

On top of these effects, we also have some mana sinks to help us utilize our mana in the late game. Cards like [c]Aggravated Assault[/c] will give us extra combat steps, which lets us utilize [c]Falter[/c] even more. If one combat step where their creatures can’t block was bad, two seems like a death sentence. [c]Blinding Flare[/c] also acts like a mana sink when we get to pour mana into its strive cost. We can even refill our hand with [c]Wheel of Fortune[/c] and [c]Wheel of Fate[/c] so that we never run out of gas.

Our early game aggression, compounded with our late game mana sinks, lets us consistently keep the pressure on our opponent. This deck will never let up, and will punish any misstep or stumble from our opponent. Most of our creatures may be small, but it’s unwise to underestimate their potential. Who said red was the worst color in EDH? Zurgo would beg to differ.

Overall, this deck is tons of fun if you like turning cards sideways. It borrows its core concepts from the red decks of yore, focusing on curving out instead of shear power. In a format known for durdeling around in the early game, this deck doesn’t mess around. Its quick and unrelenting nature will turn any opponent to a pile of ash. Zurgo is ringing his bell. Will you answer the call to war?

Thank you for checking out this week’s Commander Corner. If you have any suggestions for a future commander, or topic you wish for me to discuss, let me know in the comments below. Next week, we will take a visit to Ravnica once again to meet the head of the [c]Church of Deals[/c]. I’ll get to testing that deck, as soon as I stop watching Kung Fury. Seriously, go watch that movie. It’s radical.

-Steven Gulsby

 

Commander Corner: Zurgo Helmsmasher

Welcome back,

Saying [c]Zurgo Helmsmasher[/c] is an aggressive creature is an understatement. This guy is the embodiment of the Mardu Horde. He eats, sleeps, and breathes combat. He doesn’t care about subtlety,  grace, or anything of the sort. He relies on his armies speed and sheer power to overwhelm any opposing force. His leadership goes unquestioned, and so does his brutality on the battlefield. He emphasizes being the first to the punch and punishes any amount of stumbling from his opponents. If they make any mistake, they will surely be destroyed.

The type of deck that he lends himself to relishes in cutthroat moves, brutal tactics, and often dirty plays. Demolishing all of your opponents resources, while leaving yourself with the only thing on the battlefield, is the path to victory with [c]Zurgo[/c]. Lets take a look at the Zurgo deck that is up to no good.

Zurgo-Helmsmasher-MtG-Art

Some orcs just want to watch the world burn

[d title= “Zurgo, Worldslayer (EDH)”]

Commander

1 Zurgo Helmsmasher

Lands

1 Arid Mesa

1 Blood Crypt

1 Bloodstained Mire

1 Clifftop Retreat

1 Dragonskull Summit

1 Evolving Wilds

1 Godless Shrine

1 Isolated Chapel

1 Marsh Flats

5 Mountain

1 Nomad Outpost

12 Plains

1 Reflecting Pool

1 Sacred Foundry

1 Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion

5 Swamp

1 Terramorphic Expanse

1 Vault of the Archangel[/d]

[d]

Creatures

1 Etched Champion

1 Goblin Welder

1 Godo, Bandit Warlord

1 Junk Diver

1 Leonin Shikari

1 Myr Retriever

1 Puresteel Paladin

1 Shimmer Myr

1 Shriekmaw

1 Solemn Simulacrum

1 Steelshaper Apprentice

1 Stoneforge Mystic

1 Stonehewer Giant[/d]

[d]

Instants

1 Chaos Warp

1 Disenchant

1 Doom Blade

1 Enlightened Tutor

1 Lightning Bolt

1 Lightning Helix

1 Oblation

1 Path to Exile

1 Swords to Plowshares

1 Terminate

1 Utter End

1 Wear // Tear

Sorceries

1 Armageddon

1 Cataclysm

1 Catastrophe

1 Day of Judgment

1 Jokulhaups

1 Planar Cleansing

1 Steelshaper’s Gift

1 Wrath of God [/d]

[d]

Artifacts

1 Argentum Armor

1 Basilisk Collar

1 Batterskull

1 Boros Signet

1 Coalition Relic

1 Coercive Portal

1 Commander’s Sphere

1 Darksteel Ingot

1 Gilded Lotus

1 Grappling Hook

1 Lightning Greaves

1 Masterwork of Ingenuity

1 Nevinyrral’s Disk

1 Oblivion Stone

1 Orzhov Signet

1 Scourglass

1 Sculpting Steel

1 Semblance Anvil

1 Sol Ring

1 Sunforger

1 Sword of Body and Mind

1 Sword of Feast and Famine

1 Sword of Fire and Ice

1 Sword of Light and Shadow

1 Sword of War and Peace

1 Thran Dynamo

1 Umezawa’s Jitte

1 Worldslayer

Planeswalkers

1 Nahiri, the Lithomancer [/d]

This deck is designed to be as brutal and cutthroat as possible.

It’s for people who need more of a competitive deck and are willing to shell out the money for it. This deck is working at its best when Zurgo and maybe an equipment with him is the only thing left on the battlefield. Once that happens, your opponent has almost no time at all to deal with him. By the time they even start to recoup their losses, they are already dead.

Sometimes you even need to destroy all lands in order to get the job done. For this deck, it doesn’t matter how you get the job done, as long as it gets done.

The main way to win the game is by commander damage. Zurgo is the main way to beat your opponent down. He can take down almost any creature he comes across, which is even easier if he has equipment with him. There are a myriad ways of searching up equipment with [c]Stoneforge Mystic[/c], [c]Stonehewer Giant[/c], [c]Steelshaper’s Gift[/c], and a handful of others.

Once you have Zurgo suited up, you can start destroying the world. You can start casting your [c]Wrath of God[/c]s and [c]Day of Judgement[/c]s to clear the way for Zurgo to crash into your opponent. The deck gets even better if you get to use [c]Cataclysm[/c], [c]Jokulhaups[/c], and [c]Armageddon[/c] to completly wipe out your opponents resources. Once that is done, they will pretty much be unable to be able deal with him.

On the other hand though, if they do, you might have a difficult time coming back.

Once you destroy everything with your wrath effects or your [c]Worldslayer[/c] and your opponent just plays a land and [c]Swords to Plowshares[/c] your Zurgo, you’re probably screwed. This deck tends to put all of its eggs in one basket. To win most of the time, you have to pull the trigger on destroying everything. Once you do that, you need to hope either you have a way to stop them from touching Zurgo, or just that they don’t have it.

Granted, you do put your eggs in the Zurgo basket, but it is definitely an enticing one and has shown to work time and time again in testing.

At the end of the day, it’s a deck that does one basic concept very well. It plays Zurgo, it throws swords on him, destroys everything, and kills your opponent. Rinse and repeat. While this may seem simplistic, it’s fun as hell to play. Putting your opponent to the test immediately once you cast your general is a thrill. The heavy sigh you get from him resolving is an interesting feeling. You can see that they know there is only a matter of time before everything they worked for is swept away and only death is left for them in the end.

Thank you for checking out this week’s Commander Corner. Like always, if you have any suggestions on what commander you want me to feature in a future article, let me know in the comments below. Next week, we play with the elements. See you soon, my friends.

-Steven Gulsby